Just half an hour before the HHS contraceptive mandate was set to go into effect, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor blocked the Obama administration from enforcing the mandate against Catholic employers that provide morally appropriate health insurance through the Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust, according to an announcement from The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Justice Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, issued a short two-sentence order in response to an appeal by the Trust as well as the Denver and Baltimore chapters of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who operate nursing homes for low-income people, calling for an exemption from providing employee coverage of abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures.
The Supreme Court released the order late on December 31, and the Administration has until Friday to respond.
“The Christian Brothers Trust is a last wall of defense for faithful Catholic organizations like The Cardinal Newman Society, determined to preserve their most basic human right to obey and serve God without interference by federal and state governments,” said Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly at the time the suit was filed earlier this year. “We are grateful to the Trust for this lawsuit and stand firmly in solidarity with our bishops and the Trust’s many clients in defense of our religious freedom.”
Mark L. Rienzi, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which filed the suit, said he was pleased with the ruling. “We are delighted that the Supreme Court will require the government to file briefs in the court on this matter.”
The issue was brought to the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, earlier that same day denied a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the mandate.
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